Monday, December 30, 2013

Creating a "Crochet" Chain with Knitting Needles.

Many designers use a crochet chain as part of their shawl bind off. This technique can be seen in shawls by Boo Knits, Rosemary (Romi) Hill, and Corrina Ferguson. Some designers call for a crochet hook and others call for knitting needles. I prefer to chain with my knitting needles so that I do not need to break form.

If you look at the front of a crochet chain, it looks like a single column of knit stitches. This effect can be accomplished with your knitting needles in one of two ways:

Just Knit the Chain

For this method you will knit each chain stitch into the previous stitch. Basically, you knit a column of stitches 1 stitch wide. If you don't know how to crochet, this method will be the easiest since you are just "knitting".
Have the stitch that will start the chain on your working needle.
Slip your left needle through the front of the stitch on the right needle (working needle). The positioning will be the same as if you are going to knit the stitch through the back loop.
Wrap the yarn around the working needle.
And pull the yarn through...
The stitch...
The chain...

Crochet the Chain with Knitting Needles

For this method you use the tip of your needle like a crochet hook. Only the working needle is used in this method. I find that I tend to create a tighter chain with this method.

Have the stitch that will start the chain on your working needle.
Bring yarn from front to back of working needle.
Wrap the yarn over and around the needle.
Use the tip of the needle to catch the loop just wrapped around the needle and pull it through the stitch.
The chain...


Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Simple Christmas Socks

While at Knitting Lab this year, I purchased some self-striping Halloween yarn from Canon Hand Dyes -- it was Halloween after all. On my last day, I realized I really should have purchased a skein of self striping yarn for Christmas, but I was too late. So I went on line and ordered a skein. For better or worse, the yarn is hand dyed and didn't arrive until December 14th, so I dove right in. Afterall, I want to wear the socks on Christmas.

I decided that I was going to knit this sock toe-up. (Yes, I'm knitting a toe up sock.) Since I'm not doing a gusset and this is self striping yarn, toe up is a better approach than top down. I want to see how far I can go with the self striping yarn and this is easier to accomplish knitting a toe up sock. (Once I know the length of the tube, I can knit this toe up or top down.) I want my stripes to be consistent through out the sock, so I need a short row heel and no gusset. I am using the afterthought heel technique described in A Sock Surgeon's Afterthought Heel Technique to create the heel.

Constructing the Sock

.
Cast on 28 stitches using Judy's Magic Cast On. Round 1: K to end of round. Round 2: K1, KFB, K, KFB, K3, KFB, K, KFB, K2. Repeat rounds 1 & 2 until there are 64 stitches on the needle. Since my toe is dark, I can get away with using the KFB as the increase. The purl bumps won’t be visible. If your toe is a lighter color, you may want to adjust and use M1L and M1R as appropriate. Knit 3 more rows in the contrast color for a total of 21 toe rows.
I knit both socks at a time using the chunking method described in Chunking your Socks. This means that the yarn needs to be split into two balls. Since I wanted to make sure that the color order was the same in both balls, I had to rewind one of them once split. This is only an issue if you are knitting two socks at a time. Once split, I then aligned the color so that I started both feet at the same point in the skein.
Start knitting both feet just to get the socks started and see how the colors are lining up.
Knit both socks until they measure about 11 1/2" from toe. Since the goal of these socks is to make them as long as possible maintaining stitch count and needle size, I decided that I needed to insert a heel on one of the socks to determine how much more leg I could knit. My normal sock length is 8 3/4" and my heel will be about 1 1/2", I marked a point 7 1/4" from my toe as the row that would be unraveled to start my heel. My sock is 64 stitches, my heel opening will be 64 / 2 - 2 or 30 stitches. These 30 stitches are centered on the sole of the sock with 1 stitch on each side of the opening. I start by clipping the center stitch of this row and then begin unraveling, picking out the stitches on this row. As I move along I insert may needles into the newly exposed stitches. It is easiest to do this if your needle size used to pick up the stitches is smaller than the needle size used to make the stitches.
Complete unraveling one side.
Slide needles over and then unravel the stitches on the other side. There are now 30 stitches on each needle.
Start knitting the heel in the middle of the sole so there won't be an end to weave in at the heel/sock corners. Start of round will reset at the end of the first round: Join yarn at middle of sole and knit to corner; pickup 2 stitches in the corner, one on each needle; knit to other corner; pickup 2 stitches in corner, one on each needle; knit past middle and knit to corner resetting start of round. Begin knitting heel as follows: Round 1- k1, ssk, k to 3 stitches before end of first needle, k2tog, k1, k1 ssk, k to 3 stitches before end of second needle, k2tog, k1. Round 2 - K. Repeat rounds 1 & 2 6 times, then repeat round 1, 7 times until 4 stitches remain. Knit 2 stitches on next needle and rearrange stitches by moving 2 stitches from the end of each needle to the front of the other needle. Graft closed with Kitchener stitch.
I tried on the sock and continued in stockinette until there was little stretch left. In my case this worked out to be 10 more stripes or 30 rows. Since I started with the white, I ended with the white as well.

The cuff is knit as follows: Using the contrast color, knit 1 row in stockinette. This will maintain a clean line between the last stripe and the start of the cuff. Knit 16 rows of 1x1 rib. Bind off using Jenny's Super Stretchy Bind Off.

The finished socks. The colors are nicely aligned
... and on my feet ...

Next Time

All and all I'm pleased with the sock but I would make some modifications next time I use this technique:
  • Make the toe "longer". Since I'm knitting the toe in a contrast color, the toe would look better if the contrast color was extended 2 or 3 rows.
  • Make the foot shorter. The sock is a little long for me, so I need to start the heel about 1/4 - 1/2 inch earlier.
  • Make the heel longer. Again, I think the sock would look better with a slightly larger heel.
  • Since I'm knitting the heel like a toe, I can knit the back of the heel using a heel stitch without much trouble.
  • This project can be found on Ravelry at Old Fashioned Christmas.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Monday, December 16, 2013

    Quick Noro Slouchy Beanie

    Every so often I like diving into stash and start knitting something up. I have a fair amount of Noro that I don't have any plans for so I grabbed a couple of skeins to knit up a hat. I am using Noro Silk Garden and US 7 (4.5 mm) needles for this project.

    Cast on 72 stitches using German Twisted cast on. Join in the round. I'm knitting this on 2 circular needles, but if you are using a single circular needle, place a marker to mark start of round. Knit 12 rounds of 1x1 rib.
    Place markers every 12 stitches. Round 1: Knit increase round as follows * K to marker, M1R, SM *, repeat from * to * to end of round. 6 stitches increased. Round 2: Knit to end of round. Repeat Rounds 1 and 2, 3 more times and then repeat round 1 once. You will have 16 stitches between markers for a total of 96 stitches.
    Continue knitting in stockinette until length of hat is 8 1/2" long from cast on edge. The hat is looking pretty big at this point. (Note: If you want less slouch knit less stockinette.)
    Decrease section: Round 1 - * K to 2 stitches before marker, k2tog *; repeat from * to * until end of round. Round 2 - Knit to end of round. Repeat rounds 1 & 2 10 times and then repeat round 1 one more time. You should have 24 stitches remaining. K2tog to end of round reducing stitches in half, 12 stitches remain. Cut yarn leaving an 8" tail. Thread yarn through loops and pull tight. Weave in ends.

    This hat took 160 yards with a row gauge of 25 rows in 4 inches and a stitch gauge of 18 stitches in 4 inches. Circumference is 15 inches unstretched and 24 inches stretched. Hat length is 12 inches.

    This project can be found on ravelry at: A Bit More Slouch


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos & text copyright Prairie Willow Knits.

    Monday, December 9, 2013

    Working a Corrugated Heel Stitch

    I am currently working on Rondo's Escape, a stranded sock based on the Cats in the Garden Sock Pattern by Lucia Light. The sock calls for a heel that is a variation on a 1x1 corrugated rib, with floats carried both the front and back for a horizontal effect on the heel. I decided that I preferred the vertical patterning of a traditional corrugated rib. Unfortunately, the corrugated rib was not giving me the correct row gauge called for in the pattern. The heel also lacked the substance I prefer in my heels.

    I decided to try stranding a traditional heel stitch to get a similar vertical patterning that one gets with the corrugated rib. The problem with this idea is that the working end of the yarn used for the slip stitches stays on the left while the yarn for the knit stitches works its way across to the other end of the needle. In order for this to work the slipped stitch working yarn needs to be carried along with the knit stitch strand and it needs:

  • to be carried in a manner that provides some stability,
  • doesn't have long floats, and
  • the catches can be easily worked.
  • I decided I could use the "weave as you go" end weaving method to handle the floats when knitting the slip stitch side (RS) of the heel flap. The WS or purl side of the heel flap is traditional corrugated rib, maintaining color - no special technique required. I will focus on the handling of the right side since it is different from the traditional heel stitch and different from corrugated rib.

    Front of Work

    When stranding, I employ a 2-handed stranding technique where I hold one color in each hand. For the heel, I hold the slip stitch color in my left hand and the knit color in my right hand. Both yarns are held in back. Green is the color of the slipped stitch columns and brown is the color of the knit stitch columns in this example.
    Slip the next stitch purlwise. (If you did a combination purl on the previous row, slip the stitch to maintain correct stitch orientation.)
    Place the working needle through the stitch as if to knit. Make sure the working needle goes over the slip stitch strand.
    ... and complete the knit stitch. This catches the yarn used for the slip stitches.
    Slip the next stitch purlwise. (If you did a combination purl on the previous row, slip the stitch to maintain correct orientation)
    Place the working needle through the next stitch as if to knit. Make sure that the working needle tip goes under the slip stitch strand.
    Wrap the yarn around the working needle, making sure not to catch the slipped stitch strand on the needle. You are catching the slipped stitch strand with the knit stitch strand.
    Pull the yarn for the knitted stitch through and form the stitch. You can see that the slipped stitch strand is not pulled through. It is caught on the back.
    Complete the stitch
    Repeat this process: Slip stitch; knit with slipped strand under the needle; Slip next stitch; knit with slipped strand over the needle to end of row. The alternating of knitting under the strand followed by knitting over the strand will catch the slipped stitch strand behind the work. At the end of the row give the row a little stretch.
    The result
    ...and inside the heel

    Back of Work

    When stranding on the back of the work, you are stranding purl stitches. The main thing to remember is to keep your strands/floats on the purl side which is now facing you. To accomplish this with my 2 handed approach, I need to do continental purls. I find that doing the combination purl is the easiest and most natural from this position since the yarn must remain in front to catch floated strands on the wrong side of the work. A combination purl does however orient the purled slipped stitch backwards and I must address this on the right side of the work when I slip the stitch.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Monday, December 2, 2013

    I Couldn't Resist

    I don't usually do any holiday knitting, but I couldn't resist the Ho, Ho Hat by Deborah Tomasello. I have always admired her stranded hats, but never got around to knitting one. Deborah had a promotion for this pattern in early November, so I took advantage and downloaded the pattern. I've been busy with other knitting and queued this pattern in hopes that I could start it and finish before Christmas. Well, I couldn't resist and I put down boring knitting and picked up this hat.

    The hat starts with corrugated 2x2 rib
    Completion of the first round of "santas". This hat requires 3 color stranding. Since it has light colors, I needed to be careful when catching my carries. I didn't use my 2-handed stranding technique since it resulted in color bleed through. Rather, I just brought the new color over the old colors before knitting the stitch or catching the yarn.
    Completion of second santa row.
    The finished hat.
    The inside of the finished hat.

    Overall, this is a pretty easy and fast knit. I used Knit Picks Palette yarn for the first time and was pleasantly surprised by how nice it is to knit with. Its a good value for the money. The only downside is that the hat is a bit big for my head. I can still wear it and I will for the remaining holiday season.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits. Pattern is copyright by Deborah Tomasello

    Monday, November 25, 2013

    Chunking your Socks

    Do you have a problem completing the second sock? Do you dislike doing socks two at a time?

    When I first started knitting socks, like many of you, I had second sock syndrome. I just couldn't see myself starting a whole new object once the first sock was complete. When I thought about the technique of knitting two socks at a time, it seemed tedious. Completion of any portion of the sock would take twice as long. I wouldn't see progress.

    So I came up with an idea (or re-vented the idea) that solves both problems. I knit two socks at a time, but in chunks. What is a chunk? Its any portion of the sock you want to complete. Typically, I chunk my socks as follows: Cuff, leg, heel flap & turn, gusset, foot, and toe. I start the first sock and complete the first chunk, in my case the cuff. I then move on to the second sock. I knit the cuff, completing the first chunk and then move on to the leg. I complete the leg and then move back to the first sock. I complete the leg of the first sock and then move on to heel flap and turn. I move back to the second sock, well you get the idea. The method works equally well for toe up and top down socks.

    Other Chunking Ideas:

  • Chunk on a chart repeat. If your sock repeats the same chart multiple times, you can chunk on the repeat.
  • Chunk based on charts. If your sock has multiple charts, the chart can be a logical chunk.
  • Chunk based on a specific number of rows.
  • Just do what works for you and the pattern.

    To knit socks in this manner, you will need two sets of needles. If you use magic loop, you will need one needle for each sock or two needles. If you knit on two circulars, like I do, you will need two sets of two needles or four needles. If you knit on double points, you will need two sets of double points.

    Adapting Chunking to Get a Good Fit

    Sometimes I find that the sock I'm knitting may be trickier to fit. This is typically true of stranded socks or of highly cabled designs. In this case, I adjust my chunking strategy to create larger chunks based on where I perceive a potentially questionable fit. In this case my goal is to not have to rip out two socks -- I want to minimize having to back out work (Hey! who doesn't!).

    Freeing Myself from Second Sock Syndrome

    What I have found is that using this technique has mostly freed me from second sock syndrome. Once I started completing pairs of socks, the goal of completing any pair of socks became easier. Of course your mileage may vary.

    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry

    Monday, November 18, 2013

    Maintaining Tension when Stranding between 2 Circular Needles.

    I love knitting stranded socks. I knit my socks using 2 circular needles and have had an issue of getting appropriate tension when moving from one needle to another. One trick that I discovered was to catch the float just before and just after changing needles. This technique helps but I still had tension problems. Then by accident, I discovered a solution that works pretty consistently.

    To insure a clean float at the join, I wrap the “back” needle to the front, positioning the stitches as if they are on the “front” needle. This allows me to stretch the stitches and lay the float correctly.

    Here's how its done:

    This is the most important step. You hold the cord from the back needle (B) parallel and in front of the front needle (A). Spread the stitches in the same manner that you would for a float in the middle of the needles.
    Maintain the position of the back and front needle and knit into the stitch. My next stitch is green in this example and I need to catch the yellow yarn. If you need a catch do it now.
    Bring the yarn around the needle to form the stitch, maintaining the position of the front and back needles.
    Knit the stitch, maintaining the front and back needle position.
    The finished stitch. I typically continue to maintain the position of the front and back needles through a few more stitches before releasing the back needle.

    This may take a little practice but it will help maintain a more consistent tension when moving between needles.


    Prairie Willow can be found on Ravelry at noliegirl. Prairie Willow is an avid knitter and jewelry designer. My jewelry can be found at Prairie Willow Jewelry;

    Photos copyright Prairie Willow Knits.